home careWhere to go after the hospital? The choice is yours.

Experts advise to examine all Home Care options when returning home.

Life, at its best, is a long series of choices. Why should that change after a stay in the hospital? It shouldn’t. Luckily, it doesn’t with home care.

It’s important to know that a referral from a doctor or discharge planner for a specific home care, skilled nursing rehabilitation, or hospice agency is a suggestion, not an assignment. The choice is still yours.

“You always have the right to choose a facility that is to your liking,” says Julie Moores, Personal Admissions Counselor for Indian Spring of Oakley.

And Moores acknowledges the importance of choice, even if it doesn’t necessarily lead to her company. “We may not be the fit for everyone. Patients and families need to tour facilities and find a place where they’re comfortable because they may be here for a little bit. So they need to find a place where they’re comfortable, where they’re comfortable with the team and the environment.”

Dare Miller, Community Resource Coordinator with Hospice of the Bluegrass, says the same is true for hospice care. “Our position is that the patient and the patient’s family are in control,” Miller says. “It’s their life, and their world that we’re there to support. And I would hope that physicians and discharge planners and other people that are in positions of that nature would follow that same line of reasoning, that the patients and the family have the right to make the decisions that affect that person’s end-of-life journey.”

But unfortunately, patients are often unaware of their freedom of choice, and they feel obligated to use the referred agency.

“I think that happens, and I think it’s unfortunate when it does,” Moores says. “I don’t know why it happens, because the law requires choice. I think that sometimes folks get busy, and they go for the easiest route.”

Dare Miller says that it’s important for patients to not only know that they have a right to choose, but to carefully exercise it. “We feel that choice is very important because this particular end-of-life event is different for every single person,” Miller says. “So we would hope that people would take advantage of the fact that they have a choice, and make an informed decision based on what is best for them.”

Becky Miars says that the best way to deal with the situation is through education.

“The solution is for patients to be wise consumers,” Miars says. “They need to understand that there may be some pressure, but they truly do have choice.”

And she even offers up some easy ways to do research before making a decision.

“You can do research on Medicare.gov,” Miars says. “That will give you results of the quality of companies. In the future, they will even be reporting the way patients evaluate agencies, so that they can get a feel for what this is all about. They can check with the Ohio Department of Health and see how surveys are going. They can talk to their friends, neighbors, and doctors. In this day and age, you have to be an educated consumer.”

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